How I Wasted My Autumn Staycation

Every year, my Thanksgiving weekend is my longest weekend, four days off from work that I extend by taking an extra day or two of my own. It's funny reading some of my goals from last year, since I only got around to a few of them this weekend. Better eventually than never is what I always say. Last year in addition to playing a holiday parade with one of my bands, I made it to a happy hour with some of my old neighborhood friends I'd recently reconnected with, and I started the whole weekend with another happy hour with one of my work friends, who I assisted in drunk-dialing Rey with some random Star Trek question about “Dharma and Greg on Viagra”. The actual quote was in some alien language, but I think my version is sort of close to what he was asking. This year, things were a lot quieter, and I'd be hard pressed to top that story. At one point there was the possibility of a road trip to Atlantic City, but it got pushed back when the friend planning it had other plans. I've never been there, and the trip might be on for one of these subsequent weekends. As for this past weekend, it may have been quiet, but it went fast. Some days I passed the time better than others:

Day ONE:
I couldn't tell you what I did on my first day off. I know I watched some episodes from my From the Earth to the Moon boxed set, and spent some time on the computer, experimenting with some photo manipulation technique tutorials. For the most part it was a gray, dreary day, certainly not a good one for photography. I know I woke up way too early because I forgot to tell my dad I'd taken the day off, or I had told him but he didn't hear me. One of my college friends had wanted to see Ninja Assassin, but I'd never heard back from him. (A few days later I'd learn that the sister of one of the other guys who was supposed to go had been in the hospital and had passed away, so it was more than understandable). At some point on that first day I drifted off into a nap, waking in darkness hours later. I had a text message from another friend from my old job about the same movie my college friends wanted to see, but at the time I thought I already had plans and I woke up 20 minutes before the movie was going to begin. I ate dinner, watched a few more DVDs, wrote about my latest blood donating experience, and drifted off, wondering how a day could just evaporate.

Day TWO:
The second day off from work was a Thursday, and Thanksgiving itself, which I already wrote about in detail, at the end of the second day. It too was a quiet day, but a brighter one with sunshine, home cooking, and family. Even the depressing atmosphere of the nursing home left me with a positive message: I was still FREE to venture out and have adventures any time I wanted.

Of course, Black Friday is one day I wouldn't go out, at least not near any stores. It was another dreary day not conducive to taking pictures or hanging out in the outdoors, so apart from a trip to the post office I stayed inside. By this point I was bouncing off the walls from boredom. I still had the boxed set to finish, and posts to write, and some cleaning and organizing to do in my room. But I was sick of it all, and at one point I even started playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance again. It's a great game, but I beat it years ago(twice) and already unlocked most of the bonus features. I also didn't like the way it swallowed time. As much fun as it was, hours would irretrievably disappear the way they do when I take a nap. Midnight came and went, and the sitcom post I'd written earlier in the day automatically published. Eventually, I turned off the game, went to sleep, and vowed to do something on Saturday. My vacation was halfway over, and I hadn't done much of anything.

By the fourth day I got things right. I got to McDonald's early and ordered myself a deluxe breakfast platter of pancakes, sausage, eggs, a biscuit, a potato cake, and an orange juice. Once a year that's a treat. Twice, it's an artery-hardener. After watching another DVD and checking out some maps, I grabbed my camera and took advantage of my first sunny, free day to track down some unexplored trails. My first destination would have required me to leave my car on the shoulder of a busy road and walk to the woods. Plan B led me to a dead end, private road, and clearly the internet misled me when it said there was a parking lot and a nature preserve there. Oh, there were still some undeveloped woods, but they were surrounded by estates on land that had since been developed. I was more successful on my third try, returning to a historical site I'd been to twice before, once as a child on an elementary school trip and once with my first digital camera. This time I had better lighting and better equipment, and in a few weeks I'll be posting my pictures. I ran into a lady from work who pointed out part of the site required tour tickets to be purchased, but they were sold out by the time I checked. So, I've still got something to shoot if I ever return there. In the evening, I took my mom to church, and was surprised as always to see the first candle lit in the Advent wreath. One holiday really does begin on the heels of another. My evening concluded with reviews of 3 of the DVDs I'd watched and more Ultimate Alliance, where I finally unlocked a U.S. Agent skin.

By Sunday morning, I realized the Ninja movie probably wasn't happening, and I should have gone when I had the other opportunity. I checked to see if it was playing at my local theater, and though it was not, Fantastic Mr. Fox was. Hardly anyone goes to that theater any more, so I figured the risk of small children was minimal. Besides, though animated, I doubt any parent would mistake a Wes Anderson movie for a kid's film. Oh, it was kid friendly, with any curse words substituted hilariously with the word “cuss”, but it had all the dry and subtle humor and philosophy of any of Anderson's live films. And of course, parents see anthropomorphic creatures and erroneously assume their toddlers won't be bored. There were only two or three families there besides me, but the youngest kids were definitely part of the G crowd, not PG. “What's dat? What's dat mommy? What's dat?” one little girl kept repeating. Her brother kept saying he wanted to go home. I tried to focus on the witty dialogue and amazing stop animation, how perfectly the expressions fit George Clooney' sly talking or Jason Schwartzman's monotone exasperation. It was outstanding. There were a few deaths in the film, with the more violent ones off screen, but I wonder if the bodies shown afterwards were too much for the 4- or 5-year-olds. The real “terror” came when the little boy in the noisy family stood on his seat, and was “swallowed” by it. He was screaming as the mother tried to pull him out, but he'd gotten wedged between the seat and the back. Another couple helped when the woman looked pleadingly and said, “I don't know what to do!” The father of the older, better behaved child two rows up lifted the little boy out of his predicament pretty easily, and in all the ruckus I missed a crucial scene in which the main character suffers a life-changing injury. I'd say that was my only complaint, but prior to the film I ordered nachos and cheese, expecting them to be heated. The kid behind the counter took one of those plastic trays and dropped a sealed bag of chips in one section, and a sealed plastic pudding-cup like container in the other. “Thanksyouenjoytheshow” he muttered after taking my four bucks, as I stood staring at the incomplete display. The container said “do not microwave” so I guess the cheese was meant to be served cold, but it was still a gross and pasty goo. I won't be getting nachos in that theater again. In the evening, I made it down to the docks in time for a gorgeous sunset, and my material for future photo posts grew even further. I'd return home to finally finish watching the last disc of From the Earth to the Moon and watch my FOX Animation Domination shows before compiling my Phantasmic Links and playing (you guessed it) more Ultimate Alliance.

Day SIX:
Monday for the rest of the world was a Sunday for me, although my dad was once again oblivious to that fact as he flipped on my light at 7 AM. After explaining I had taken another vacation day, he asked if I could clean the gutters. “I didn't mean right now!” he shouted as I began to shuffle downstairs to get the ladder. I went back to bed for two more hours then got the ladder out and pulled out all the leaves. I had some shopping to do near my old job, and was going to see if any of my old friends wanted to meet for lunch, but I got sidetracked when I was unable to locate a Best Buy gift card I'd gotten for my birthday. I could swear it was glued to the inside of a greeting card, draped over a string in the doorway to the kitchen, but it wasn't there. Had I taken it out already? It wasn't in my wallet. Did I lose it? Did I throw it away with the envelope? I searched everywhere, and my mom even started looking under the appliances with a flashlight. I remembered the night I got the card I was wearing a dress jacket, and a search of those pockets revealed only some napkins and four packets of ketchup. If I was drunk enough to pocket and subsequently forget the presence of condiments, then that gift card could be anywhere. I was in despair, and hated that I couldn't remember anything past hanging up the card. My mom calmly helped me retrace my steps, and we realized that the refrigerator door, if open, would be directly beneath those cards. I checked the shelves, and then my mom asked me what color the card was and told me to close the door. I did, and she reached down amid the dozens of magnets and pulled something out that was stuck behind a photo of my friend's kids. “Is this it?” It was, and I was back on track. Going shopping after lunch proved to be a good thing, since the crowds subsided as people returned to work. I got a new, larger memory card for my camera, and then headed to a nearby mall to revisit a food court I hadn't dined at in years. Two major counters were disturbingly vacant, but one old favorite, Charley's Steakery, remained, so I loaded up on steak and cheese and bacon and fries and melted cheese and bacon bits and it was GOOD. Granted, it probably wasn't good for me, and since I've been away from the gym for a week, my run on Tuesday evening is going to be both challenging and necessary. After lunch, I hit Target and probably found it the least crowded I will for a month. I got a card and the first gift for my folks, and browsed the toy aisles for my cousin's kids. I couldn't remember their ages though, and my home phone was busy so I couldn't reach my mom to ask. I called it a day, and returned home to sum up my long weekend(see above) and unwind with a new Heroes.

And maybe play more Ultimate Alliance.

Oh, I'm wasting my life...


Blogger Lorna said...

Any one who can make that weekend readable is definitely not wasting his life. Thanks for the info on Fantastic mr Fox. I wanted to see it and didn't want to spend more time with kids who weren't blood of my blood, so now I know what kind of theatre to look for. there's one that runs its last shows around 11:00. Maybe that one will do.

12/01/2009 2:05 PM  

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